First diversity profile of in-house solicitors puts public sector to fore

CPS: Second biggest employer of public sector solicitors after local government

The public sector is home to a more diverse group of in-house solicitors than the private sector, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) data has shown.

The proportion of in-house solicitors in the public sector who are Black is twice as high as in the private sector, while nearly a third of female in-house solicitors work in the public sector, compared to less than a quarter of men.

The detail on the diversity profile of in-house solicitors, understood to be the first of its kind, follows publication of a report by the SRA in December on the diversity of solicitors working for law firms.

The regulator said it had sufficient data to release the figures on the ethnicity, sex and age of the 33,500 in-house lawyers who make up around a fifth of all practising solicitors.

The figures for the profession as a whole showed an increase in Black, Asian and minority ethnic lawyers from 14% in 2015 to 19% in 2023. The proportion of in-house solicitors from ethnic minority backgrounds is exactly the same, at 19%.

The proportion of in-house lawyers who are Black is slightly higher, at 4% compared to 3% for the whole profession, and who are Asian slightly lower, at 11% compared to 12%.

Black in-house solicitors are twice as likely to be found in the public sector, where they make up 6% of in-house lawyers, than the private sector, where they make up only 3%.

Asian solicitors are also more likely to be working in the public sector, but not by much – 12% compared to 11%. White in-house solicitors are slightly more likely to be working for the private sector (81% v 79%).

Two-thirds of all in-house solicitors work in the private sector. Of the 28% that work in the public sector, the big employers are local government (13%), the Crown Prosecution Service or CPS (7%) and the Government Legal Profession (4%).

A smaller group of in-house solicitors work for regulatory bodies (2%), educational establishments (2%) and advice services (1%).

A particularly high proportion of Black in-house solicitors work for local government (27%), followed by 11% for the CPS. For Asian solicitors, the proportion working for local government is 16% and 8% in the CPS, and for White solicitors 13% and 7%.

While just over a half of the solicitors working for law firms are female, six out of ten (61%) of those working in-house are women.

Almost seven out of ten (68%) of solicitors working in the public sector are female, where the leading employers are local government (16%) and the CPS. Of the 23% of male in-house solicitors who work in the public sector, 9% work in local government and 7% for the CPS.

Younger in-house solicitors, those aged between 25 and 44, are much more likely to work in the private sector, where seven out of 10 are based.

Local government has a particularly number high proportion of older solicitors. More than a fifth of in-house solicitors aged over 55 work there.

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